General, Inspiration /

Does your workplace spark joy?

So hopefully we’ve all had a few lazy hours over the holiday break to get caught up on our Netflix binge watching. A new series about “tidying up” showed up on my must-watch list. The show is an episodic how-to in the very clean world of a Japanese organizing consultant and world-renowned author, Marie Kondo. She is known for creating the “KonMari” method of organizing which is a technique where one gathers all of their belongings, one category at a time, then holds each item in their hands and decides if that item “sparks joy”. If it does, then the item finds a special place in the user’s home or space. If not, she encourages you to “thank” the item for what it has given to you and to delicately part with it — either by donation or disposal.

At first, it seemed a little too holistic for me. “How can my sweatpants, a necessity, spark joy?” “Do my salad plates spark joy; are salad plates capable of creating a spark of joy?” I had a lot of questions. Over the first season of episodes, I started to see how small daily organizing can add up to a more consistently tidy surrounding, and ultimately with more tidy headspace, less stress, less fatigue. I’m starting to buy into this since many days I feel like the Marie Kondo of my client’s spaces. (more…)

General /

‘Tis the Season for Gratitude

Early this month, Monica Conners, senior director of client development, and Marian Rein, marketing manager, gave a presentation to employees about gratitude. It was a great reminder about the benefits of gratitude, not only to the receiver but also to the giver. Monica and Marian shared tips from Toni Powell, author of Happiness and its Causes, who stated, “When gratitude is practiced in the workplace, relationships are transformed, complaint is minimized and satisfaction levels skyrocket.” They also recommended checking out these two Ted Talks:

Gratitude Sticks: Why Small Acts of Kindness Matter by Kaitlin Garrity

Want to be happy? Be grateful by David Steindl-Rast

After discussing the Ted Talks, we talked about some of the ways we’ve received gratitude like handwritten notes, thoughtful gifts, heartfelt acknowledgements – the more personal, the more meaningful.

I also like these “6 Easy Ways to Show Gratitude Every Day” from summarized below:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal
  2. Verbally thank someone
  3. Clean up after yourself
  4. Don’t complain for a day
  5. Write a thank you card
  6. Volunteer in your community

So, what is a gratitude journal? Pretty much what it sounds like – taking the time to write down what you are grateful for, thereby bringing more awareness to the good things in life, large and small. (Of course, you can Google templates to download and create your own journal!) I’m not sure if I have room in my day for journaling, but incorporating a few minutes to name some things I’m grateful for seems doable.

Is there a special way you practice showing gratitude this holiday season?

Architecture, General /

Podcasts: The Future of Storytelling

Essentially a modern version of talk radio, podcasts allow for true unaltered content on literally any topic — where anyone can make one and be their own Howard Stern or Ryan Seacrest.

Podcasts are fairly new to the media scene (becoming popular with in the last 10 to 15 years) but have taken off quickly becoming a big hit with the younger population and slowly swaying the older generations that grew up with traditional radio. Traditional radio still reigns supreme solely based on the number of people it reaches because it has been around for longer, but has limited options to the content it can put out on different topics.

Podcasting’s meteoric rise has been greatly attributed to the fact that they give a new and refreshing take on the way people in our current society process information or storytelling. So much of our information today is taken in through our eyes — watching movies on Netflix, videos on Snapchat and Instagram, or simply reading articles on our smart phones or laptops. Listening to another human’s voice discussing a topic that you want to hear about (like architecture) gives the appearance of direct conversation or connection that makes the listening process so much more enjoyable or intriguing. Industry giants are even seeing the writing on the wall that podcasts are becoming more popular and are here to stay. An article written by Chris Giliberti for Forbes in 2016 explained how roughly 21% of the U.S population or 57 million people listen to podcasts daily, and those numbers are growing. Companies like Spotify, Pandora and Apple have all invested heavily in their own podcast divisions as they can see the impact they generate or will in the future.

If you haven’t started listening to podcasts yet, you should try it. You can find them on the internet, or through Spotify and SoundCloud, or an App store. Here are some podcast recommendations that focus on architecture.

  1. 99% Invisible­-
  2. Archispeak-
  3. DnA Design and Architecture-
  4. The Urbanist-
  5. Design Matters with Debbie Millman-


Written by Emilio Pinero.

About Emilio: Emilio is going into his senior year at Saint Louis University, finishing a Bachelor’s in Marketing and Business Analytics. He joined Lawrence Group this summer as a marketing intern and has enjoyed his time here. Emilio loves to play soccer, hang out with his friends, and watch movies. 

General, People /

Lawrence Group People

Each month we are highlighting three of our employees by having them share everything from their personal motto to their favorite architect to what’s on their bucket list. We are hoping this gives you a glimpse into the people of Lawrence Group.


General, Inspiration /

Reflecting on Music & Creativity

When stripped down, music isn’t so different from design—silence the blank canvas, the instrument, the chosen design utensil, and as with any creative endeavor, always the mind behind it all, reeling with possibilities.

At their best, both carry a certain universality. A relatable song, a familiar space—both lend a greater sense of connectedness to those around us. The ideal composition, like a well-executed design, feels so natural to the consumer that it becomes difficult to actively notice what’s so pleasing about it. I guess it’s sort of paradoxical in that sense—each element meticulously crafted, yet somehow culminating to produce something that appears effortless in its composition. The intuition and skill required to achieve such an effect continues to routinely astound me, and I often find myself pondering the nature of inspiration, searching for the foundation of what it takes to create something new. I suppose there’s not really an objective truth to it, but for me, it always goes back to music.

Though it’s fairly common to search for inspirational content somewhere within your own medium, music has this bizarre, near-transcendent quality to it that seems to improve one’s output across all mediums. There’s a particular type of music to enhance every activity—“Eye of the Tiger” for your daily workout, some instrumental stuff if you’re attempting to focus, and, most importantly, that one Springsteen song you belt out on every road trip. Point is, music can often serve as an integral counterpart to existence. I find it has this endless ability to complement and enhance day-to-day life, and perhaps when it comes to our creative endeavors, we sometimes take it for granted. When performing any creative activity, our carefully selected assortment of tunes provides some loose form of escapism. While plugged into Nina Simone’s greatest hits, it becomes easier to attain an effective, lasting creative rhythm. Suddenly, you can’t hear the sound of the radiator turning on and off in its habitually tedious 15-minute cycles, nor the shrill beeps and ominous cranks of the elevator as it travels up and down. Lost within the illusion of your own personally catered universe, I suspect a creative endeavor may begin. Pretty neat.


General, People /

Out and About in Q1

Hard to believe that April is almost here. After enjoying some time off for the holidays, we hit the ground running fast in January, and it’s been a bit of a blur since. But, in between all the deadlines, we managed to get out and about in the first quarter. Here’s a look at a few of those fun, extracurricular activities:

In January, Lawrence Group sponsored the 13th annual St. Louis Business Journal Women’s Conference, which attracted nearly 1,000 business leaders. Principal Becky Egan and I staffed our exhibit booth, while almost a dozen other LG architects, designers, managers and leaders were able to take advantage of the great speakers and networking opportunities at the conference. During the opening ceremonies, CFO Laura Conrad represented Lawrence Group on-stage with other sponsoring organizations.

Two LGers also took time out to speak at local events in January. CEO Steve Smith presented an education workshop for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) St. Louis on January 10th, and Micah Gray, our digital practice manager, spoke at the St. Louis Chapter of the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) on the pros and cons of the use of drones and lasers for construction estimating.

In Austin, Principal Earl Swisher, Associate Director Julie Steffens and I enjoyed a beautiful night out at the Sam Houston State University Department of Agricultural Sciences “Honoring Traditions, Creating Futures” dinner.

February was career fair mania. Our architects and designers kicked it off at Iowa State and ended up at Kansas State meeting lots of curious students and sharing what it’s like to work at Lawrence Group. In February, Monica Conners and I also attended the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Leadership Summit in Tucson, Arizona. The summit was filled with lots of great networking and leadership training.

This month, Associate Director Sharon Henderson and Senior Associate Lisa Morrison presented “The Science of Workplace” at the International Facility Management Association (IFMA)’s Facility Fusion 2018 Conference and Expo in Chicago, Illinois. On the 15th, Steve Smith also spoke to attendees at the Building Owners and Managers (BOMA) St. Louis March luncheon about the City Foundry STL development.

So, what’s next? On April 4th, stop by our booth at the annual Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) St. Louis Prime Time Event: Diversity Outreach at the Sheet Metal Workers Hall. On April 10th, it’s the Chouteau Greenway Design Competition Community Kickoff Day at The Sheldon. On April 19th, our creative (and competitive) LGers will be watching their car in the annual construction industry’s Pinewood Derby at the MOTO Museum. Hope to see you out and about soon!


General, People /

Holiday Wishes to Our Work Family and Friends

It is only natural to think about family and togetherness this time of year. Something about road trips, a big meal, flag football games, and naps always reminds me of what to be thankful for at home. The downtime during the holidays also gives me a chance to relax and reflect on my work family.

My career in construction started at 15 years old. My uncle got me a job with a residential plumbing company working in the shop. My first summer was filled with stocking plumbing fittings, unloading trucks, cutting gas pipe, making deliveries and installing drain tile and sump pumps. I started that summer with little clue of what I would be doing for the rest of my life and finished it knowing in my heart what I was going to do for a career. I fell in love with construction, and that band of 12 plumbers I met that summer became my first work family. Over the next seven summers and a few college semesters, I had long reunions with my first work family and built many fond memories of my time as a residential plumber.


General, Inspiration /

Rise in the City: A Unique Blend of Creativity and Altruism

rise in the city is a unique art event created to catalyze social enterprises in Africa, featuring an artwork competition, exhibition and auction. The concept began with splitting Manhattan into 100 virtual blocks; leading artists, designers and architects were then invited to create a work of art representing a block of the city. The challenge was to get inspired by Lesotho. One could reference the white, blue and green colors of its national flag, incorporate the traditional blankets or famous Basotho hat, or even re-interpret the traditional Litema patterns that adorn Lesotho’s vernacular buildings. All proceeds from the event go towards the construction of an accommodation block for an orphanage in Lesotho. Additionally, proceeds will fund entrepreneurship training for orphanage staff to promote the development of income-generating activities and reduce aid dependency.


Architecture, General /

Drones and Architecture: Becoming Certified to Fly

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or more commonly referred to as “drones,” are a somewhat new and emerging technology, especially in the field of architecture. As prices of this technology fall while its features and capabilities increase, we are starting to see the benefit of being able to utilize UAS’s in house. As with most emerging technology, the rules and regulations surrounding drones are relatively new, especially when you are dealing with something as controversial as a flying camera. Part of dealing with some of the red tape surrounding commercial drone use is gaining your Part 107 certification.


General, Inspiration /

Four Tips for a Fun Social Media Launch Party

Lawrence Group recently launched its Instagram account and celebrated with a company launch party to get people excited and on board to share their behind-the-scenes project details, silly moments and an overall glimpse into what makes the culture and work of Lawrence Group unique. Our team threw a space-themed launch party for the start of our blog in 2015, and we wanted to top the level of excitement among employees for our second go-around. The “InstaParty” successfully launched our new Instagram account. Here are some tips I recommend for marketing teams looking to boost internal excitement and engagement when it comes to new social media for their company: